Two years ago the Apple MacBook Air started a minor revolution. It aimed to turn the humble notebook from a work tool of seemingly never-changing design into something iconic to be lusted after.
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The resulting product was selling to something of a niche market, but other manufacturers have also made a play for the “give me slim stylishness or give me death” crowd, with Dell’s Adamo XPS being the latest Air rival.
The original Adamo altered perceptions of Dell computers as dull boxes for grey men, but the Adamo XPS is even better: it’s stunning looking. The chassis is fashioned from a single piece of aluminium giving it a seamless look and high-quality feel. At a fraction under 10mm deep, it’s the world’s slimmest notebook and looks like little more than a folded sheet of exceedingly stylish metal.
The flat keyboard doesn’t suffer at all from being crammed into such a tiny space – it cunningly fits into the display when it’s shut. Typing on it is such a pleasure, we actually preferred it to the MacBook’s keyboard, although the trackpad isn’t a patch on the Air’s multi-touch.
You get 128GB of solid state storage. You can hook up an external drive if it’s not sufficient, although that’ll take up one of only two USB sockets. You’ll also need to shell out for a USB DVD drive because there’s no room for one inside the Adamo XPS’s tight little casing.
Other connectivity is minimal. DisplayPort lets you add a monitor, and there’s a 3.5mm headphone socket. 801.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 are built in. There’s ethernet too, but only via a supplied adaptor.
At 13.4 inches the classy screen is a good size for viewing movies in 720p hi-def, with LED backlighting giving improved colours and helping to muster up a detailed picture. The tiny speakers lack depth and volume, though.
The Intel Core 2 Duo processor is fine for day-to-day tasks and you can have multiple apps open without suffering undue sluggishness. With just an integrated graphics card, gaming isn’t really a possibility, however.
The battery doesn’t impress, giving a pitiful 86 minutes of DVD playback and about two hours when running the internet via Wi-Fi and knocking up a few Word documents. Dell’s optional, larger battery with double the stamina is an advisable purchase – price TBC, alas.
Dell’s Adamo XPS makes a major style statement, but it’s a solid performer too. The keyboard and screen are particularly fine, and the processor’s good for anything that’s not too data intensive. Even with the premium feel, the £1,750 price tag is a bit much, though.